Move follows growing rebellion among EU member states over health risks

1. EU to defer decision on safety of weed-killer ingredient: sources
2. EU glyphosate rebellion gathers strength as health commissioner shocks pesticide industry

1. EU to defer decision on safety of weed-killer ingredient: sources

By Barbara Lewis
News Daily, 7 March 2016

The European Union will defer a decision on whether to extend approval for weed-killer ingredient glyphosate, used in herbicides including Monsanto’s Roundup, following a dispute between EU and U.N. agencies over whether it causes cancer, EU sources said on Monday.

Experts from all 28 member states attended a closed-door meeting on Monday in Brussels, which had been expected to endorse a European Commission proposal to extend authorization of glyphosate for 15 years until 2031.

In an email, the European Commission said the meeting would continue on Tuesday and it could not yet confirm the outcome.

It has said it needs a decision over the coming weeks to prevent a legal vacuum when an existing approval expires at the end of June.

Two EU sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they no longer expected a decision at this meeting after France said last week it would oppose extending approval, while EU diplomats said Germany planned to abstain.

“It can go ahead in another group in the coming weeks, months,” one source said.

“A decision is very unlikely,” another said, referring to this week’s talks.

Ahead of the meeting, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which advises EU policymakers, issued an opinion that glyphosate was unlikely to cause cancer.

That conclusion was at odds with the view of the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The difference between them has stoked a fierce debate.

Environmental campaigners have called for a ban. In a statement, Greenpeace said governments should oppose renewing the EU license for glyphosate “as long as uncertainty remains over the risks it poses”.

A statement on the website of Monsanto, which calls Roundup the flagship of its agro-chemicals business, said it strongly disagrees with IARC’s classification of glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. It has filed a legal challenge in the United States.

The Glyphosate Task Force, which brings together Monsanto and other companies, said there had been a rigorous assessment of consumer safety and it expected approval in the coming weeks.

(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

2. EU glyphosate rebellion gathers strength as health commissioner shocks pesticide industry

Sustainable Pulse, 8 Mar 2016
[links to sources are at the URL above]

Countries across the European Union have now joined the Great Glyphosate Rebellion that was started late last week by France, Sweden and the Netherlands.

According to anonymous Sustainable Pulse sources in Brussels, Bulgaria, Denmark, Austria, Belgium and Italy, among others, are set to also vote against the re-approval of the World’s most used herbicide in the EU and Germany are set to abstain.

Reuters reported late Monday that the vote planned for Tuesday on the re-approval of glyphosate until 2031 will now most likely be postponed, leaving the possibility of a glyphosate herbicides legal limbo, as the current approval of the chemical is set to end in June 2016.

In an amazing week in Europe GM Watch also reported that Europe’s health and food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis has indicated that his directorate, DG SANTE, is exploring the possibility of full transparency for industry studies on pesticides.

This move has shaken the pesticide industry to the core as currently the industry studies submitted to support regulatory authorisations of pesticides are kept secret under commercial confidentiality agreements with regulators. Andriukaitis has said that this needs to change.

Public pressure against glyphosate in countries across Europe has been intense, with nearly 1.5 million people petitioning Andriukaitis, for a ban on the substance.

After a Dutch parliament vote opposing the renewal of glyphosate’s permit, the Netherlands called on Saturday for a postponement of the EU-wide decision. “If there is no possibility to postpone the vote, then we will vote against the proposal,” said Marcel van Beusekom, a spokesman for the Netherlands agriculture ministry.

The move by Sweden and the Netherlands followed the announcement on Friday by French Minister of Ecology Ségolène Royal that France will vote against the EU re-licensing of glyphosate.

Royal also added that France was not backing the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on their recent safety assessment of glyphosate and was instead basing their decision on the report of the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015, which declared glyphosate to be a probable human carcinogen.

The Swedish environment minister, Åsa Romson, said: “We won’t take risks with glyphosate and we don’t think that the analysis done so far is good enough. We will propose that no decision is taken until further analysis has been done and the EFSA scientists have been more transparent about their considerations.”

Romson added: “We are raising concerns because our citizens are raising concerns. They want to feel safe and secure with food and production in our society.”

This move by France and their EU partners will hit the biotech giant Monsanto and other large pesticide companies which rely on glyphosate-based herbicides for a large percentage of their global profits. Glyphosate is now the most widely and heavily applied weed-killer in the history of chemical agriculture globally.